Women’s History Month 2021: One Letdown After Another

Hi everyone, I have been feeling the need to vent about gender inequality of late. The pandemic has exposed rampant discrimination towards women and there have been SO many failures especially during Women’s History Month.

One thing I wanted to mention is I changed my site from UCan2 to Third Culture Kid Can in case you got confused. It’s still me!

Note: I am going to share my own personal experiences of discrimination, particularly as an expat.

Content Warning: Gender and racial-based violence.

Harry and Meghan Interview with Oprah:

After living in England for 13 years, I could write an entire post about the Royal Family. I can say where I was when (insert here) happened. Let me give a summary here. The interview confirmed what I already knew about the Royal Family. Combine Wallace Simpson with Princess Diana. Add a dose of racism. Voila! The racism part was only new in the sense that it’s a new tune than it’s been. After all, no person of colour has ever married into the Royal Family before.

In case you missed the interview, here’s a link: http://box720p.com/play.php?movie=tt141172ttttt88

I was able to see what my friends in England were posting on Facebook about the impending nuptials. There were articles that weren’t making it into international news. My friends were commenting on how disgustingly racist and xenophobic those articles were. The bottom line of our views was, “It’s the 21st century! Stop this crap!” I hope someday, racist and xenophobic media lose their credibility. This interview exposed what media sources we shouldn’t trust. Look for the temper tantrums and ignore the source for good!

My American friends know that I am seriously disillusioned with the Royal Family. One of my friends told me, “I watched Harry and Meghan’s wedding.” I said, “Okay.” That was the end of that conversation. I don’t mind hearing about the Royal Family per se. People know that I only talk about them if I want to talk about them. It’s a mixed bag for me. I do keep up with what’s going on in the UK because it is my passport country. On the other hand, you can only hear so much about the Royal Family. Although, these days I feel it’s important to have these conversations, especially after the interview.

Sexual Harassment Statistics in the UK:

UN Women UK released a statistic that 97% of women in the UK have been sexually harassed. I’m one of them and I certainly believe it when they say how rampant it is. Please note, the following is my own personal experience, but I honestly believe I am not the only one who has experienced these types of harassment. I am talking about this because this is NOT okay!

I was a pre-teen when I moved to London. Within my first year, I had to be careful of what I said or did. I could just be minding my own business, and somehow that showed a guy I was into him and he would totally hit on me! This happened so frequently and it confused me terribly. I was going through culture shock at the same time. I found myself wondering, “Is this normal in England? Or is it normal everywhere?” I didn’t tell my parents what was going on because the shame was overwhelming!

Fortunately, my Mum figured out what was going on. One time at school, this boy in my class called me a “Stupid American Bitch”. I didn’t even know what that word meant at the time. My Mum called the school to yell at them and eventually pulled me out! Later on, she noticed guys would make eyes at me and she would give them dirty looks.

I went to a girls’ school for a while because I didn’t want to deal with boys. It wasn’t any better because they were bullies in their own way. Plus, they just accepted sexual harassment from boys and men as normal and I didn’t. I developed the attitude, “I don’t care if this is culturally acceptable! This is not okay!”

It Never Got Better:

As I got older and began to look more like a woman, the harassment came thick and fast. Guys kept making eyes at me or whistling at me whenever I was out. I was walking down my street and I got hit on SIX TIMES by SIX DIFFERENT MEN! I turned around and went home ready to punch any guy that hit on me again!

One time, I was at the pharmacy picking up medicine for my Mum and the guy serving me hit on me! I refused to go to that pharmacy again. Another time, this homeless guy grabbed me after he asked me for money. Fortunately, I broke free and ran away! There were a lot more incidents where that came from.

The only support I could rely on was my Mum. My friends told me I should be flattered that I get hit on so much. I developed my own survival skills. If anyone tried to stop me in the street, I would either outright ignore them, or yell, “NO!” before they had a chance to say anything. I know now that sometimes, it was rude because the person meant no harm. On the other hand, I was traumatized. I developed my “DON’T MESS WITH ME” look and used it all the time when I was out.

Then I Started Working As A Chef:

Sexual harassment got absolutely brutal once I entered the workplace! Plus, being in a kitchen where there are hot and sharp things, you fear for your safety if you speak up. One time, I used physical force on a guy who was sexually harassing me at work, and who got disciplinary action? Me. By now, I was on medication for panic attacks. The trauma from harassment had compounded after several years. I eventually stopped working as a chef because I learned sexual harassment and assault is an occupational hazard for female chefs.

Here’s one of the biggest ironies I learned. The most significant change I had made as a teenager was to dress in bulky clothes and look ugly. Okay, I know now it’s an outdated view that women’s clothes provoke men. I thought the people who were slut-shaming me were right. I’m not saying they were right, but I will say this. Dressing down definitely reduced the number of street harassment incidents I experienced. I was willing to do it as long as it happened less.

Trouble is, I HATE wearing bulky clothes all the time! It makes my body hurt and sometimes, I just wanted to wear a dress or take my sweater off or something. I mean, come on! Just let women wear what they want! Their clothing is NOT their consent! When I moved to California, I started to relax more with my clothing.

After I was sexually harassed at work, I knew the clothes assumption was wrong. I wore chef whites like everyone else and I was still harassed! Now, I just wear what I want. I have my own style and I’m proud of it!

When I Repatriated:

I learned the hard way how American guys were toxic. Culture definitely influences toxic behaviour patterns in people. I was used to how guys were toxic in England. Guys in America seemed to have a more violent side to their toxic behaviour. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that guns are legal in the US.

Additionally, it was surprising to me to learn that women in the US are far more supportive of each other than in the UK. It was hard for me to develop close female friendships in the UK. Plus, I feel women in the US are aware of how toxic men can be, and they know they have to stick up for each other. I was in two abusive relationships after I repatriated. It was out of the frying pan and into the fire for me. Fortunately, I learned to develop close female friendships and that helped me heal. I don’t like Madeline Albright per se, but her quote that I used for my post is so right!

I decided to apply to go to Mills College in Oakland because I needed a safe place to continue healing. It worked! It was the best decision I could have made and it has set me up with a lot of skills for life. That was why I was so upset when my senior year got cut short because of the pandemic. See my previous post, COVID-19: One Year On. What’s My Story?

And Then This Past Week Happened:

Last Tuesday, there the shootings in Atlanta happened where six Asian sex workers were killed. When the domestic terrorist blamed his violent actions on his sex addiction, uh no. Just no! Other people deal with addiction and they aren’t out and about shooting people. Also, yellow fever much? I thought this was about the worst it could get with Women’s History Month. I was wrong.

The next day, I got an announcement that my beloved Alma Mater is going to close. I was inconsolable. I know that universities have been suffering because of the pandemic, but Mills was suffering financially even before the pandemic. The amount of information I have about why Mills is closing is a whole other post. Basically, Mills was in financial trouble a few years ago. Therefore, the vultures descended and finished the school off. I have been getting information the last few days that makes me angry and sad and hurt that the president and Board of Trustees have killed Mills. It’s like in Guardians of the Galaxy when Rocket yells, “You killed Groot!”

I am working to fight against this along with other alums. To me, Mills is forever! Plus, after all the crap that has happened during Women’s History Month, Mills’ work is FAR from done! Mills closing is just another reason why I never want to live in the US again. Someone said to me that it’s super expensive to live in the Bay Area now and he doesn’t see how any school can survive there long-term anymore. I definitely agree. Income inequality is through the roof there and it’s hard to see it getting better any time soon!

Okay, rant over. What are your thoughts on Women’s History Month this year and progress on women’s rights?

Storming the Reichstag 2.0

Hello everyone, this is in regards to the events that have been happening in Washington D.C. It took me a bit of time to get my thoughts together on this, but here goes! As a dual US/UK citizen and Third Culture Kid, it’s my duty to voice where I stand on this. I have learned from experience that what one country does affects the rest of the world, so that’s primarily why it’s important to let people know where I stand when one of my countries royally screws up!

Where to Start:

2016 was the year that not one, but BOTH my passport countries shot themselves in the foot! Having lived a significant portion of my life in both those countries, I can honestly say that it was inevitable that Brexit happened and Donald Trump was elected president. I tried to find the right words for it, and then I saw John Oliver express it so beautifully!

Although, I can say BOTH my countries fucked themselves with a rusty piece of rebar!

I am contrasting Brexit with the 2016 election because it’s the perfect example of how one country’s actions can have ripple effects in other countries. I was not surprised by Brexit any more than I was surprised with the 2016 election results. Of course, I had hoped the US would learn from the disastrous Brexit result and not elect Trump, but since that didn’t happen, ergo, ripple effect. I’m going to focus more on the US from here though. Just brought up the UK as an example in this context.

What was the Key Element?

Well, it was mainly how strong racism and xenophobia are in the US. My Mum said when we repatriated to the US in the 1990s after living in France/Switzerland she realized how US culture is stained by racism. I saw that too when we repatriated to the US from the UK. I did see hints of American racism in the US while living in the UK, but it was hard to put a name to it at first. I have often said that I don’t understand how some sub-cultures of white Americans can have these racist hang-ups. Somehow, growing up in England, I bypassed learning racist white American culture.

The more layers of human suffering that you add to a culture, the more wounds need to heal. It’s also important to remember that genocide of Indigenous People and enslaving Africans didn’t just happen out of the blue. Something has to be very wrong with people who commit egregious, dehumanizing acts against their fellow human beings. It’s like how you don’t just become a toxic person. Someone hurt them too. Wounds that aren’t healed manifest themselves in a number of ways, even within cultures and sub-cultures.

Unfortunately, I see that the US is in the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I have seen with other countries that have had a history of violence, that they reach a point they realize they went too far, and then worked to make it right. This attempted coup just proves to me that the US has not admitted that they have gone too far with electing Trump. Additionally, the Republican party will ALWAYS have this attempted coup to their name, along with the whole fiasco of the past four years.

How Does This Relate to Domestic Terrorism?

A lot actually. Also, FYI, I have studied the US Constitution, so I know what the 2nd Amendment says. That doesn’t change the fact that we shouldn’t let gun use run rampant. People who are pro-gun definitely overlook the “well-regulated militia” part. We shouldn’t arm citizens with military-grade assault rifles. Also, deciding who gets to have guns is based on racism. The reason why California has the strictest gun regulations is because of the Black Panthers. Reagan instituted the Mulford Act because the Black Panthers had guns at a protest. The constitutionality of it was upheld by both the NRA and the Supreme Court. AND Antonin Scalia voted in favour of the Mulford Act! Additionally, US mass media carefully avoids calling white people who commit mass shootings, terrorists. They are called terrorists in any other country, so why should the US be an exception?

Watch this video. Trevor Noah says this so much better than I ever could.

Trevor Noah is SO spot on with making fun of not calling active shooters domestic terrorists in the US! One thing I love about Trevor Noah is nothing is sacred to him. I love how he can frame switch into different accents and talking about different cultures. He has clearly done a lot of research before he does his shows.

We Didn’t Elect Officials for Their Platitudes!

Anyone who knows me knows I am SO SICK of politicians spewing platitudes! I don’t care what party they are from. I definitely do NOT vote for politicians because they are duck-billed platitudes. Get it?

Okay. I am glad Biden did call on Trump to stop this violent attempted coup. I’m also glad Biden posted photos of how it would have been different if it was a Black Lives Matter protest. Still, when he said that this is not who we are, etc. Um, no. Just no. This IS who we are. We let this happen and we are all to blame in one way or another. There really is no room for downplaying what happened. Downplaying violence is being complicit. I just hope other countries learn from the US that they need to stop their far-right movements before they get out of control.

What does this mean for the future?

These white supremacist terrorists are not going to go away now that Biden is president. They were there long before Trump, and they aren’t going to go away overnight. When Obama got elected, the white supremacist movement was gathering steam. As far as they were concerned, we did The Unthinkable and elected a Black President! What I said about bypassing learning racist white American culture just goes to show that culture is learned. These people have it ingrained in them that their behaviour is okay.

I fully support holding racists accountable. Sometimes, it means correcting someone’s words or behaviour. Plus, it can mean going to a higher authority to help you when the situation puts you in danger or is out of your hands. Of course, we need to have those higher authorities who will exercise their clout to stop racist behaviour.

I wonder if other countries will start screening US expats for any history of being part of the far-right. I know immigration forms to Canada ask you if you have been a part of a group that has incited or participated in violent acts. Good on them for doing so! Honestly, I personally don’t mind if I have to go through a screening process as a US citizen if it means that Canada is going to stay safe. I have nothing to hide. Okay, there have been a couple of times when I got in with people who turned out to be toxic, far-right people, but then I got out of the situation as soon as it came to light. That’s different from still affiliating with someone who you know is like that. In that case, you are guilty by association.

And on A More Personal Note

My Mum and I escaped the US for precisely what the has become. There is a point we reached that we realized we can’t be a part of this anymore. I know we were lucky to get out, but my heart goes out to the people I love who I left behind, but want to leave. I’m going to do everything I can to stay. I’m scared to go to the US at this point! I know someday I will go there briefly to pack up my stuff and move out, but I don’t want to stay there for any longer than I have to. I wonder if people who were thinking of leaving the US because of this crap have decided to do so now.

I am glad that I have built up some resilience to what’s going on in the US. Still, I honestly don’t believe the US is the leader of the free world anymore. I think there is a naive belief that it’s a great country. I hope the world catches on fast that it’s a lie. To be quite frank, I am not in a place where I can hear anything positive about the US right now. If you really want a reality check, watch Michael Moore’s movies. I specifically recommend Where to Invade Next and Fahrenheit 11/9. He’s not afraid to tell it like it is!

I’m Becoming Less American

Since moving to Calgary, I have had to detox from all this crap that’s been going on in the US. Fortunately, the people I know have been really understanding and kind to me about that and most importantly, welcoming. So Canada, here’s my gift to you: I promise that I will hold anyone I know who is a US citizen to the same standards that you have held me to. Additionally, I am going to do everything I can to stay here and get Canadian citizenship someday.

I have a bigger announcement too: I intend to renounce my US citizenship someday. I spent all morning researching how to do that. When I moved here, I knew I wanted to give up my US citizenship, but now I am starting to plan for it. It’s not going to happen overnight though. Even though I have a UK passport, I could have a lot to lose if I renounce my US citizenship before getting Canadian citizenship. Just like the clothes you have to wear if you’re walking outside in subzero temperatures, there are a lot of layers to US citizenship.

When I was naturalized as a UK (and EU) citizen, I was made aware of my rights, privileges and responsibilities. I’ve found as a native-born US citizen that they don’t tell you those things unless you explicitly go out of your way to find that out. I guess that’s true with a lot of countries though. So, anyway, if I’m going to be giving up certain rights and privileges as a US citizen, I need to make sure they are being replaced with something else, or if my UK citizenship covers it.

Last of All

I just wanted to share what I did today. I wondered how is this not a national day of mourning? Rhetorical question. I know why. So, I had my own day of mourning. My Mum and I held space for each other to talk and listen. When I was living in England and I would hear about bad things in the news about the US, I wouldn’t want to go outside. I knew from a young age that what the US did makes me look bad. Yes, I got heat for it. So, today I just wanted to stay inside and take care of chores that needed to be done but didn’t require too much thought. I didn’t even want to go to my favourite patisserie today. At the end of the day, I took a hot bubble bath with bubbles as deep as the snow outside! Now, I’m hoping I sleep well tonight.

Additionally, because of my own day of mourning, I am taking a day off from the Travel Challenge. Will be back with it though.

First Month Theme: Is This A Thing?

I have been here a month now, and the most common question I ask myself is, “Is this a thing?” I ask myself that because it’s surprising to me, not because I think it’s good or bad. Then, I try and find out if it is a thing and I withhold judgement until I have more information! Here are some things I have experienced living here that have made me ask that question and the answers I have got. I’m probably going to be asking myself that question a lot for a while at least. So, if anyone has anything to contribute to my possible “things” please let me know in the comments!

On a different note, I have been making changes on my page because I’m going independent. If you’re having problems with my interacting on my blog, please let me know either in the comments or through my contact page. Bear with me please with this transition!

Canadian TV:

Once things got a bit calmer, my Mum and I started exploring streaming services on CBC Gem. A friend recommended that to us, and it looks really cool so far! I found Schitt’s Creek on there. I heard my friends in California say that it was a funny show, so we thought of giving it a try. Little did we know how much that show would resonate with us because of the whole moving situation! We’re almost done with the last season and we want to watch it again and take notes! Initially, I didn’t know it was a Canadian tv show. None of my friends told me it was, and I don’t have Netflix, so I’m really not up on the shows on there. Before moving here, we were actively looking for Canadian tv shows, and we came across Slings and Arrows, which I featured in my post about Rachel McAdams. Slings and Arrows is another one that I have watched about 3 times over.

What I have noticed about Canadian TV shows is that they are very real and don’t have that in-your-face that US TV shows and movies have. Every country puts its stamp on their TV shows, and I like the personal and transparent aspect of Canadian TV shows. I fell in love with English comedies while living in London. They will always have a special place in my heart!

I was pleasantly astounded that Schitt’s Creek put LGBTQIA+ representation front and centre of their show! No wonder they have won several awards for that! As much as I would love to see that happen with US TV shows, I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon, since conservatives have quite the grip on media.

I have got some good recommendations for other Canadian shows, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the future! I have found TV shows and entertainment are an excellent gateway to understanding a culture. Plus, right now, I can learn a lot about how people speak and spell words here in Canada. At this time, I am a little overwhelmed with that considering I am already fluent in both American English and English English and I’m trying to figure out how and when to relate to which dialect or when to abandon the rules with both dialects completely with Canadian English.

Currently, I am watching movies from the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival, which I can do for free through my local library. I will write a post on that later. Right now, I’m still trying to find out what’s a “thing” with Canadian TV and movies, but I’ll get there!

Another “thing” I discovered is whenever there’s a big snowfall, the internet gets funny. The last time I lived in a snowy climate, the internet wasn’t nearly as big a thing! Streaming does get a little weird around that time too and I have to refresh the page. I have tried 5G though, and I understand why the transition is happening now in Canada. 5G is definitely better quality than regular internet when there’s a big snowfall. That, and I know from being a data science major that transport fleets of the future are being designed to run on 5G, so there we go.

Quality of Food:

I’m in love with the food here! I discovered the joys of the Co-op and Cal & Gary’s my first day out of quarantine! Still exploring what they have to offer at this point, but I’m hooked! I’m really into organic, local and ethically sourced foods since I’m a trained chef, and it appeals to my French side. I know this sounds crazy, but it doesn’t feel like the food is slowly killing you here because corporations get away with putting SO much crap in it! I know a few things about Canadian laws on food and trade with the US, but I’m still learning about it. Frankly, I think the fact that the US just lets corporations do whatever they want makes the population more unhealthy, even if you personally take care of yourself. Plus, giving corporations free rein strips people of their livelihoods, and that’s one of the things that has lead to that orange baboon being in the White House for four years. I told my Mum that and she hadn’t thought about that, but she thinks I’m right.

I have been getting in touch with my French side since discovering the joys of Yann Haute Patisserie! I get bread there regularly because no one does bread like the French! Plus, on my first trip there, I decided to try a Paris-Calgary, while my Mum tried a lemon tart. We were celebrating our end of quarantine, and the food was ABSOLUTE ECSTACY!!! Anyone who visits Calgary HAS to try Yann Haute Patisserie!! Trust me, your trip will not be complete without it!! I have since tried their croissants and sausage rolls, and they are just as incredible! I feel like I’m in France again or back at Le Cordon Bleu!

Cold Water Pipes and Furnaces:

It was a weird thing to realize that you can’t get completely cold water from the cold water tap! I have lived in Colorado, where the pipes would freeze sometimes, but you could still get cold water. I joked with my Mum that the tepid water from the cold tap is like the tepidarium in Roman baths!

Winter Infrastructure and Lifestyle:

I used to take my water bottle everywhere with me back in California. It helped with getting my required 2L per day of liquid to carry it around. Now, there is no way I can take it with me without the water freezing, so I have to drink as much as I can before and after I go out! I also started drinking 2.5L of water a day because of the dry climate. Additionally, I have been using lotion and chapstick a lot more! Every store I go into has Burt’s Bees chapstick, and I can see it’s for a good reason.

I can tell if it has snowed during the night because someone comes by with a snowblower at about 6:30 am and it’s loud and stinky! Worst alarm clock EVER! It makes me pull the blankets over my head and hope I fall back to sleep!

I’m doing fine acclimatizing to subzero temperatures, and so far, I have learned how to deal with -10 C ish pretty well! I come alive whenever there is snow! I have missed that feeling after living in California and London. Lately, I heard that California is getting “cold”, so I created a meme. Basically, no one in the US is getting any sympathy from me when they say it’s cold! There are a few exceptions, but this meme sums me up pretty well.

I become like Roz!

Most of all, I love taking walks in the winter weather and seeing other people taking walks and enjoying the outdoors. Life seems more deliberate here, unlike the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley, which is a recipe for burnout, and why people are doing a mass exodus of the Bay Area.

I could write an entire post about winter lifestyle here (including what I see when I take a walk), but so far, I just want to mention those few things. More later!

Remembrance Day:

I wanted to say a few things to follow up on my post about Remembrance Day. First of all, I noticed on Remembrance Day a nearby flag was flying at half-mast. I got this feeling that I have only ever had in England whenever I saw Armistice Day customs. It’s a feeling of realization that it really was world wars you’re talking about here.

Additionally, I was outside the day before Remembrance Day. When I passed the monument to an unknown soldier, I noticed a flame burning and people laying a poppy wreath. I smiled respectfully to myself and lowered my head as another memory of England cropped up. I went to that memorial again when I visited a local library. I saw the eternal flame burning and took some photos of the memorial with the poppy wreaths. I definitely felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for England, and also a realization that Canadians really love their country!

The US doesn’t fly the flag at half-mast on November 11. The US used to call November 11 Armistice Day, like in England, but they changed it. My Mum remembers when that happened, and my grandparents were really upset with the name change. To them, it was a slap in the face to get rid of a name that signified the termination of The War to End All Wars. It’s like changing the name made the US forget about the sacrifice during the World Wars and isolated themselves further from the world. My Mum told me to NEVER forget that the US did that, and I promised her I never will!

COVID-19 Response:

After my mandatory 2 week quarantine upon arrival, it was weird for me to go outside and find out how many places have successfully reopened with COVID measures in place! I avoided stores like the plague back in California. I only went to Costco a few times in the seven months we were on lockdown. I trust a lot of stores here in Calgary since they are transparent about what they are doing about COVID procedures.

When I was in Safeway and found that they have arrows on the floor to indicate where to go, I was like, “Wait, WHAT?” 😮 I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. It was just inconceivable to me that stores would do that. I have had to get used to that though and be conscious about it. I was at the Co-op the other day and it slipped my mind briefly to check the arrows, and I got told off before going down an aisle in the wrong direction. I deserved that. Now, my Mum and I keep reminding each other to watch the arrows until it becomes routine. Lately, there have been some more restrictions, so I can see businesses are being more careful, and I’m completely willing to respect that!

Additionally, when I found out I could subscribe to updates to restrictions on the Alberta government website and there’s a contact tracing app, it blew my mind! 😮Can you blame me after coming from a country whose COVID response is nothing short of pathetic?

Overall, I feel I can relax a bit here when it comes to COVID. Cases have been going up in Alberta recently, so we are still careful when we go outside. When we left California, we figured out that you basically can’t go outside without being borderline paranoid anymore. So, I had a bit of paranoia at first when I went out for the first few times in Calgary, but a bit of perspective has helped. I go out more often than I did back in California, especially since it’s more of a necessity as a preventative measure for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I still have no idea how it’s going to affect me yet since I had it really bad in England! Plus, it’s a nice treat after being among the good people in the USA who have been sheltering in place for seven months and staying disease-free! Note: I’m NOT getting complacent though! The last thing I want is COVID!

Wildlife:

If you have seen my Quarantine Diaries posts, you will know I was amazed to find black squirrels here! I have seen more city wildlife since then, like rabbits and magpies. Whenever I go for a walk in the park, the rabbits come right up to me! I have noticed people feeding them, so I get why they are tame. One of our friends did warn us that rabbits are pests in Canada, so I’m not so sure about feeding them until I know for sure that it’s a thing. The rabbits kind of remind me of the squirrels at UC Berkeley. The squirrels there are just as tame and they know the students give them nuts. When I did a summer class there, I always had nuts on hand for the squirrels. Plus, those squirrels are the subject of many UC Berkeley memes, beside bears.

I haven’t seen so many magpies since England! There’s a superstition on how many magpies you see, “One for sorrow. Two for joy. Three for a girl. Four for a boy.” I gave up on that superstition though because I see so many lone magpies here, I’m just like, “Whatever!” Still, there are three magpies that frequent the front and backyard. We call one of them Belle and the other two are clearly a couple, so we call them Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie since they strut around like they’re a celebrity couple!

We have started putting birdseed out for the birds since we know from living in England that not a lot of animals make it through the winter, and England’s climate is less harsh than Canada’s.

The other day, I was walking home and it was snowing, and I saw SO many rabbits out! It makes me wonder if they go and grab as much food as possible when it starts snowing! Thing, or not a thing? 🤔

Healthcare:

Disclaimer: This is just my own personal experience so far!

I have successfully resumed my chronic pain treatment and it’s been going so well! One of my observations is that there are so many chiropractic centres around here. Clearly, chiropractic has more recognition as a healthcare profession in Canada. In the US, I have had some bad experiences with chiropractic care, and even the good chiropractors aren’t at the same level as chiropractors in Canada. Legally, chiropractors can’t diagnose your problems in the US. Additionally, even though I have had some good chiropractors in the US, the care didn’t provide any more than just occasional pain relief. My treatment and care recommendations have been sticking more than before, which is great!

Additionally, I went to the dentist since I needed a check-up and a problem that needed attention. It was the most thorough appointment I have ever had! The hygienist saw me before the dentist did (it’s the other way around in the US). I got some excellent oral care tips from the hygienist, which was also a first! The dentist explained possible steps in my care very well. I understand that a good dentist is a good dentist, and maybe that would have happened where I was getting care before, but who knows?

Diversity and Representation:

I grew up in a multicultural neighbourhood in London, and the diversity enriched my life like nothing else! When I repatriated to the USA, I wondered if I would ever have that again. I got some diverse, multicultural experiences in the USA, but it wasn’t to the same extent as London. I guess one of the defining factors for me leaving the USA, was not just that lack of diversity in my life, but also living at a time of terrible polarization the last four years. Someone who was your friend before, could become your enemy overnight.

Before I moved to Calgary, my friends told me Alberta was rather white, so I was kind of bracing myself. I’m white myself, but because I identify as multicultural and multiethnic, I’m not white by US standards. If anything, white Americans have explicitly said to me that I’m not American if I have spent any part of my life overseas and ostracized me in other ways too. My reaction is, “Fine. I would rather be an expat anyway!”

I was pleasantly surprised to move here and find it was more diverse than I thought it would be! I have connected with other immigrants, and I have already met another Third Culture Kid this past month! (Doing a little dance right here!)

Another thing I noticed is there is more representation overall. Since I have had to buy some good winter clothes, I have been looking at clothing websites a lot. All these websites I have visited have racially and ethnically diverse models. Plus, I have seen some ads from time to time and they have diverse representation, and minoritized groups are portrayed in a positive way. I can honestly say I’m impressed! Go Canada! 👏👏👏🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦

Recently, this Japanese anime artist created samurai warriors to represent different cultures that will compete at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The designs are brilliant, of course! I read some comments from Canadians on Reddit and they said their anime warrior doesn’t represent their diverse culture. I understand why Canadians said that but on the other hand, maybe the artist didn’t know too much about Canada’s diverse culture, so I can forgive that.

Overall, I am really loving my life here! I didn’t realize that I was depressed before I moved, but suddenly, I have a boost in my mental health!

Please let me know what you think of my “things”!

Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 2

Quarantine is done and my Mum and I are officially healthy and cleared to go out and explore! The first thing we did when we got out was to start our treatment for chronic pain. Not exciting, I know, but anyone who has dealt with chronic pain or a serious illness knows that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have ANYTHING!

Still, our first appointment went very well, and we have a treatment plan in place. I explored the area where my new chiropractor is, and got a cool introduction to Canadian co-ops! We also went out for a walk to find our nearest Canadian Tire that night and we officially LOVE how Calgary is at night! More on all of that later though.

I wanted to say that I’m SUPER grateful to the people we have met so far who have been so welcoming and friendly! We have a few friends in Canada, who have been so happy to share their country with us and guide us through the bumps, and that’s the best! We weren’t sure how we would be received since we had moved from California, and Election Day just happened. One of my friends has affectionately referred to the US as “that shitshow down south” and I couldn’t agree more! When I meet people, I say that I moved from California, but this is the fourth country I have lived in. If they want to know more, I elaborate. I think it helps. The people at our new chiropractic office were really cool and welcoming. We had to stop at Best Buy to pick something up, and the guy who helped us talked our ears off about the climate and weather!

I finished my last post Calgary Quarantine Diaries: Week 1 on a dramatic note! Will I get my mattress? And from where? Read on to find out!

On our eighth day of quarantine and sleeping on the floor, we were anticipating our mattress delivery from Amazon that I had ordered the night before. I had paid for 2 Day Shipping, but anyone who has had a bad experience with it knows that even if you pay for 2 Day Shipping, there’s no guarantee Amazon will keep their word. Another reason to hate them. 🙄

Additionally, there is NO WAY IN HELL I’m ever getting Amazon Prime! John Oliver did a show about Amazon Warehouses and that turned me off Amazon Prime for LIFE! The way I see it, there’s ALWAYS another option out there!

By now, Mum and I had learned our lesson with ordering from US companies. Now, we’re ordering from Canadian companies, or, if necessary, international companies where the delivery does NOT have to come from another country! Okay. Rant over.

I am thinking of doing a post about international trade sometime. It will be both my perspective as an economics major mixed with my expat experience, so watch this space!

By now, the snow was definitely melting and I saw our front yard for the first time! 😄 I felt kind of sad though, like I used to feel whenever snow melted 🙁

I lived in Colorado a long time ago. We used to get this kind of “fog” sometimes if it wasn’t snowing. I saw it again here in Calgary and it covered the tops of the skyscrapers I can see from my window that make up the Calgary skyline! That was nostalgic!

Calgary Skyline Not Visible

When I took a nap, I was HOPING it was my last time sleeping in the bathtub!

I found a 10-second video of Justin Trudeau talking about COVID, saying “This sucks… etc” and at the end, he gave a smirk! It made us wonder if he knows whether Trump will be defeated! We thought that before Election Day though. Now, we’re not sure.

Okay. Yes, I have a celebrity crush on Justin Trudeau! But 1. Can you blame me? 2. Who doesn’t? Of all the politicians who run the countries I have lived in Trudeau and Obama are tied for my Best Looking Leader award!

I’m not saying I idolize Trudeau though. I don’t like that he did blackface when he was younger, or that he has supported oil companies and pipeline expansion. However, there is a lot of good stuff he has done, and I can see he has tried making amends for his blackface scandal. Ultimately, I feel like he’s a good leader and we’ll see what he does in the future. Plus, as I said in the photo, it’s nice to have a leader who I can healthily disagree with, instead of finding everything he does utterly repulsive.

Day 9 meant waiting for deliveries because it’s easy to miss them in our situation. By now, we were positively ACHING for mattresses!

It was a nice wait though. We observed the magpies that have been stopping by our yard for food. Suddenly, we had a surprise!

I didn’t know that grey squirrel species evolved extra melanin further north as an adaptive quality! I read an entire Wikipedia article on them while waiting for the deliveries and it was fascinating! I think this squirrel is one of the rare jet-black squirrels the article talked about because I saw a squirrel that looked more mixed and it was lighter than this squirrel! I got a video of a magpie chasing this squirrel, but it’s not letting me post it.

We were expecting other packages as well as the mattresses. At one point, I got a text from Purolator saying that they tried to deliver the packages, but I wasn’t there! What a load of tripe! We could see the delivery guy didn’t even TRY! I rescheduled the package deliveries for the next day, and still kept an eye out for the mattresses.

By the afternoon, we were still waiting for the mattresses. We were also doing an Instacart order (our 3rd one since we’ve been here) and I kept my eyes peeled for a same day delivery slot. Instacart was busy that day, so the slots didn’t appear right away.

I don’t normally do same day Instacart orders, but since moving, I have done it twice because we really needed stuff! Anyway, I eventually found a late afternoon delivery slot, and figured it might come at the same time as our mattresses.

In the middle of the afternoon, I checked Amazon and found they had changed the delivery day to the next day! We were FUMING because we had paid for 2 Day Shipping! We called Purolator though and told them we needed the mattresses because we had been sleeping on the floor for over a week! Fortunately, the woman who helped us was really understanding and said she would notify the driver.

We waited about an hour after the call, and then… OUR MATTRESSES ARRIVED!!! They happened around the same time our shopper for Instacart was shopping, so we were disinfecting things and organizing our space for the mattresses. The mattresses were vacuum sealed, so we had to unroll them and let them gain their shape. We had planned to eat after getting our Instacart delivery and then go to bed.

I could feel myself getting tired as I was dealing with the above and the Instacart notifications that kept coming up. It felt like all day, I was chained to my phone! I have definitely been umbilically attached to my cell phone since moving here because of the deliveries, etc. That’s why I’m so responsive on here right now! Lol. I couldn’t WAIT to put the phone down and have a good night’s sleep on my new mattress.

After getting our Instacart delivery, disinfecting everything (including ourselves), and dinner Mum and I were like:

Source: Google

We crashed about 6:30pm 😴😴😴.

I woke up from the most wonderful sleep on Day 10, but still knew I had a certain amount of fatigue to sleep off.

We got the rest of our deliveries without a hitch, which was another relief.

I had to find out what was going on with our internet service because we hadn’t had many updates on it. After a few live chats, we realized we didn’t have Wifi and we needed a new router from the one they sent us. Since it was a Friday, we knew we weren’t going to get anywhere, and by now, I was SO sick of contacting customer service, regardless of the reason! I managed to unwind by taking a long nap though.

Day 11 was Halloween, but no celebration for us. We didn’t even get candy to hand out, since it’s not a good idea if you’re in a mandatory quarantine period after travelling. We did watch a few YouTube videos on Halloween stuff though.

I needed a Me Day on Day 12. Mum and I have had to set rules on privacy in this small apartment. I’m glad we did, because I hadn’t had a Me Day for a while now.

Spoiler alert: It reminded me of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot when Kim has to get out of Kabul after ditching her boyfriend. It was so relatable when she said to Fahim, “I need Me Time, exactly! I told you that Oprah magazine would increase your understanding of women!”

It was the first day of the time change. In general, those days are a royal pain for me! So, I tend to make an easy day of it anyway.

Day 13 was a nice, warm day and I SO wanted to go outside! I asked, “Are we allowed to go out yet????” It was a rhetorical question I knew the answer to, but the point is, I was tired of quarantine. By now, I was emotionally exhausted from dealing with customer service. Had to call the internet company again and then I took a LONG nap on my wonderful mattress!

It’s getting dark around 5pm now, and it reminds me of London. So far, I’m just tired, but I used to have bad Seasonal Affective Disorder when I was living in London. It made me leary of moving to a sub-Arctic climate again. I’ve learned from my mistakes though, and I plan to do better now. I’ll write a post comparing my experiences with SAD sometime.

On Day 14, I woke up and was elated that I have had NO COVID SYMPTOMS AT ALL these past two weeks! Same with my Mum too! It just goes to show that if you take every precaution you can while you’re travelling, the only thing that can possibly derail it is if you are in contact with someone who has COVID! We did it! We are officially cleared to go outside, but still taking appropriate precautions, of course. We celebrated that evening by going for a short walk because we hadn’t seen our neighbourhood yet. We also had some junk food on hand because it was Election Night. Even so, we were feeling pretty good about it.

I remember Election Night in 2016 vividly! I felt sick that afternoon and asked my Mum if it was normal to feel that way on Election Night. It was my first presidential election as a voter while living in the US, so I didn’t know if that was a thing. Mum assured me it’s definitely a thing! In 2016, one of my friends said she nearly threw up after voting because she said, “Both those candidates suck!” That made me feel better that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

I didn’t feel sick this time, but I wondered if it was because I am not in the US. There was only one way to find out, and I didn’t want to find out right away. I stayed off social media and news sites all day. I know some people did that too. My plan was to find out by accident what the results are. Even so, before I signed off, there were a lot of tips going around for election self-care and staying safe, which was nice. I think people now realize they shouldn’t underestimate a time like this.

Coming up: New Calgary adventures! What will they be? Who knows?

My Thoughts on Events of the Past Week

I decided to write a post on my thoughts about ICE Detention Centers doing forced sterilization on immigrant detainees, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dying. It’s been one hell of a week even with COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter going on as they have been for months now. I have been sheltering in place for six months now thanks to COVID-19 running rampant (see one of my previous posts about COVID). It’s been months since Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Abery, and other BIPOC youths who have been murdered and the fight for justice continues.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to say on these subjects. As a US citizen and a Third Culture Kid, I feel it is my duty to answer for the atrocities committed by my passport countries. This is in no way a form of bashing my passport countries. As a TCK and/or expat, you are a representative of your passport country/ies. Therefore, when your passport country/ies are at fault, it’s a reflection on you. I learned from living in different countries to be clear on whether or not you support your country/ies actions. People from other countries will judge you based on where you come from and what your country does, especially if your country’s actions affect their country.

As an aspiring author, I know there is a convention to not take sides. In this case, I am breaking with convention because times have changed and transparency is more valued. I see a trend happening of people being more conscious of the things they consume. Whether it’s media or material goods, people want to know where those things are coming from. Additionally, it is getting to the point that we can’t NOT talk about those things (double negative), if it hasn’t already got there. So, I will say this outright: I welcome any polite, educated discourse on differing views, plus any insights anyone has to offer. I love to hear people’s stories and perspectives, particularly any cultural factors. However, if you intend to troll or simply yell at me, please don’t. I will block you. If you wish to leave quietly, please do so. I wish you well.

Last week, nurse Dawn Wooten did a press conference to admit publicly that ICE detention centers in Georgia are doing forced hysterectomies on immigrant women being held there. I wanted to say first of all, good for her! I completely believe and support whistleblowers and I want to take some time to talk about them. Other whistleblowers come to mind: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford, Colin Kapernick, Roger Mark Boisjoly, and even me. Yes, I have been a whistleblower too. I am not ready to share my story yet, but I was a whistleblower on sexual harassment once. People who revere certain whistleblowers often comment on how they are so brave. When I was a whistleblower, my family and friends told me I was brave. After a while, I hated being called brave because it felt fake. I was terrified of blowing the whistle and only the people closest to me could see that. A friend reminded me what FDR said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” I felt better when she told me that. I have more empathy for why people say whistleblowers are brave because it’s hard to put yourself in a whistleblower’s shoes if you haven’t been in that situation yourself. 

Best Quote About Courage

Around the time I was dealing with my whistleblower situation, Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford testified to Congress about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh’s history of sexual harassment. I can bet my bottom dollar that she was petrified of having the eyes of the world on her and risking so much, but she never showed it. After all, the word “emotional” has negative connotations when applied to women. Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford had to be calm and logical in order to be taken seriously, while Brett Kavanagh could act like a child having a tantrum, and get away with it. I could tell Christine Blasey-Ford was as terrified as any other woman who has been in her shoes and is openly talking about a heavy subject like sexual assault! I saw a video once of a Black footballer telling his story of why he started kneeling during the US national anthem in protest of the police killing Black youths. I can’t find that video now, otherwise, I would post it! He was among the first to start kneeling, and he talked about how he was scared of what could happen if he did kneel. He was a new player and his career was at stake. I cried because I could relate to the fear on a personal level. Part of me was saying, “Thank you!” It’s time to see whistleblowers as humans and not robots. I will say something later on in this post about courage.

When the news broke that Dawn Wooten had exposed the ICE Detention Centers doing hysterectomies without patient consent and the shock had worn off, I felt a sting inside me. I felt worse knowing the doctor performing the hysterectomies is NOT a board-certified gynecologist! I know that physicians are required to be licensed if they work in different states, but not required to be board certified! Sounds to me that the law needs to be reformed! Additionally, this doctor has apparently committed Medicare and Medicaid fraud! For those of you overseas who don’t know what that is, feel free to ask me. When you find out someone is guilty of committing eugenics, you wonder what else that person has done that’s equally heinous.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called ICE Detention Centers concentration camps in 2018, and I believed her. Trump’s hateful rhetoric was emboldening authorities to do unethical acts, and this was no different. Of course, you hear about families being separated, and squalid conditions in the detention centers. Part of you wonders whether it has gone any further than that and if it has if someone will say something before it’s too late. I often wonder how many world crises (African slavery, Indigenous genocide, Nazism, Apartheid, or any other human rights abuse) could have been averted if even just ONE person with clout had stepped up to say, “This is not okay!” Because of my wondering this, I admire Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for calling the ICE Detention Centers what they are and that there is an Abolish ICE movement. 

I admire anyone who speaks out against injustice, from microaggressions to full-blown attacks. I speak out too because the more people who do, the better things become for everyone. I mean everyone too because if you improve your country, you improve relations with other countries and those other countries benefit from your country’s good deeds. There seems to be this hope that when enough people do their part to make their country a better place, it’s enough to avert acts like eugenics. Sometimes, that hope ends up wrong, and it’s hard to live with. The best you can do when it is wrong is to own it. I often wonder how a situation like this will affect the actions of authoritarian governments. Heck, the Nazis took the idea of eugenics from the US before, so there’s no telling who will take that idea next! This is precisely why citizens of a country need to own up to the problems in their culture, even if it doesn’t affect them directly. You have no control over a foreign country’s action in response to your own country’s action. Additionally, Trump is trying to make unconstitutional things happen in the US by praising dictators and their heinous actions and controlling the media. 

In this age of social media, our lives are in the spotlight and the need for accountability is even greater. Think about technology at the time of WWII. People were still writing letters, and telegrams were only used in an emergency situation. Early computers were being developed, and the news took a long time to reach people compared. Now, the Information Age means people can get news in real-time, and that can affect people’s actions much quicker. It’s interesting to see global patterns in activism thanks to the Information Age and it gives me hope to see more people around the world openly disagreeing with oppressive systems and being able to do so in real-time. 

Then, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. As if the news of eugenics wasn’t bad enough. I was hoping she would last into next year after the inauguration of the next president. I sometimes wish she had retired around the time Congress was still confirming Obama’s justices and that she hadn’t died with the worry on her mind for the future of the US. And, Moscow Mitch being the slippery psycho he is said the same night she died that there will be a new justice as soon as possible. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s granddaughter stated that her grandmother’s dying wish was for the position to be filled after the inauguration. Seriously Mitch? No respect for the dead? The grief, shock and fear I have seen on social media remind me of the day after Brexit and the day after the 2016 US election. It’s like, “What do we do now? Is there any hope?” I feel like it’s NSFW: Not Safe For Women here, and it’s not exclusively because of The Notorious RBG dying. There are lots of things here that don’t make me feel safe here as a woman, and the death of a feminist legend and what it means confirms that. I can’t wait to get out of here! Apparently, it is said among Jews that a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a person of great righteousness. It can’t be a coincidence that she died that special night.

NSFW has a new meaning!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did a video on Instagram the night RBG died and I felt a lot more hope with her encouraging people to vote and organize. It was clear she was tired, but she was there for her supporters and constituents when they needed her the most. One tip AOC gave in her video was to turn fear into fuel. She opened up and told stories of times she might have looked brave, but she was genuinely scared. That reminds me of what I just said about being a whistleblower and feeling scared. She said “Courage is not a present tense emotion”, and it was another special moment for me! Thank you, AOC! I love you and wish I could vote for you! I’m glad she has tremendous support in her district and that she was re-elected, despite having a few challengers to try to unseat her! 

There are a few things that I have found consoling while grieving for RBG. I have a DVD series with the Great Courses on the history of the Supreme Court, and it’s oddly comforting to learn. It is steeped in corruption, but it can have moments of brilliance. Of course, the moments don’t make up for a broken system. It’s been a while since I have seen On the Basis of Sex, but I love that movie! I hope I can see it again soon. How many of you know that RBG has a praying mantis species named after her? Yes, it’s true. Apparently, a species of praying mantis is normally identified through male species and this species was identified through the female species for the first time. Additionally, the species looked like it was wearing the lace collar RBG has as her signature look. That species was destined to be named after her! I love RBG’s quotes too. I do what I can to apply her wisdom in my own life and it was hard to pick one or two when I was creating a photo, but I settled on these two. Her quote about men taking responsibility for raising the next generation is what I use to judge all men.

Two RBG Quotes

I am not saying RBG was perfect. She has done rulings that I don’t agree with because they were detrimental to certain groups of people, and ultimately, she was part of a corrupt institution. I can see there are many Supreme Court justices who are intent on keeping that institution corrupt. My Mum calls it the Supremacist Court, and it’s becoming clear how true that is! If there is another corrupt justice on the court, the US is going to have to answer for more atrocities! After all, justices dissent for the next generation. Yes, RBG said that!

Here are my final thoughts on these heavy subjects. Before I became a UK citizen, I found myself apologizing on behalf of the US for their actions that were detrimental to other countries. I learned to do that when I was 11 years old and 9/11 dragged the UK into the Iraq war. As an expat, you get dragged into international relations between countries, whether you like it or not. Heck, I find myself talking about Brexit a lot these days as well as what’s going on in the US! People around the world don’t care how you have voted or where you stand. They care about results because the results are what affects other countries.

When I became a UK citizen, I learned that adopting a country’s nationality means adopting everything about it from its history to its international reputation. You adopt the good and bad, and it’s a big responsibility. It’s not something you think about when you’re a native-born citizen of a country, especially if their education system doesn’t turn out responsible citizens who can think for themselves. Thinking for yourself is the best quality you can develop because it helps you see the good and bad in your country more clearly. Plus, you can recognize if you are just being told what to think. I started to apply that same thinking as a US citizen because that’s my birth nationality. There was no rule that said I had to do that as a native-born US citizen, but I still wanted to do that. After all, innocent people around the world are hurt by the actions of the US. The US citizens deciding those actions have clearly not gone through the same process of owning everything about their country, and I think if more people did, the US wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in now!

What are your thoughts on what I just said? Agree? Disagree? Why?